When you strip down Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technique it inevitably boils down to two main parts: a site quality and a keyword range selection. I will tell you about making a quality site in the upcoming post, but today I want to talk about selection of the right keywords for your project as this continues the discussion on SEO started in the previous post.

First of all, you can search for keywords using some sort of automation tool or do it manually. In the first instance you will have to pay for it, while in the second one it is free.

Research Keywords for Free

A number of companies such as Market Samurai offer subscription based softwares that can assist you in keyword selection process. However, when you start using their programs you will realize that they source information from freely available databases like Google Keyword Tool. Unless you lack skills in operating Excel or other database program you simply don’t need any of those paid instruments. It literally takes minutes of work to come up with the same tables created by automatic softwares yourself when you have templates ready. Besides, if you are like me who do keyword research once or twice a month than justifying monthly subscription becomes even more difficult.

Two factors

When choosing keywords you should consider two factors: the search volume and the competition, mentioned earlier.

Search volume is more or less objective, easy to predict and stays constant during the year, unless it is a seasonally influenced niche like holiday one when searches go up by a considerable margin in certain periods of time. Obviously, no keyword research tool is going to give you an exact number of searches, even Google. Not because it is a secret, but because it is difficult to count. Therefore, I suggest sticking to the metrics of one particular tool (I use Keyword Discovery) and using its predictions as the truth. Over the time you will figure out keywords with what number of searches worth going for (I usually select ones that show at least a hundred searches).

Keyword competitiveness is a less obvious metric which needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. No software is sophisticated enough to give you even party truthful answer about strength of each keyword competition unless you have access to Google algorithm itself. You can check the amount of incoming links and their quality (I use MajesticSEO to do that) but in no way you will know exactly why each competitor occupies the position in rankings he does.

I tell you this for a reason. Don’t be discouraged by big sites occupying first pages of high-volume keywords you want to target. Like I said it earlier, my biggest successes in SEO came by surprise. I did select meaty keywords and I had done the job of getting my sites ranked under those keywords. But each time my sites land first positions for those keywords I am taken by surprise, because I think my effort was nowhere enough for them to be there. And for some reasons they are and stay there for years.